Is facial steaming actually good for your skin? We asked an expert

Face steaming is often a key step during professional salon facials but should we be incorporating it into our every day skincare routine?

Face steaming is not a new skincare practice. In fact, if you search for it in Google, you’ll be hit with over 40-million results. It’s a huge part of many East Asian skincare regimes and if you’ve ever had a professional facial, chances are your aesthetician carried out a facial steam at some stage. 

So why do so many of us often miss this step in our day-to-day routines? Could it actually hold the key to getting a professional, deep-down cleanse at home? 

We reached out to Jennifer Rock, dermal facialist and founder of Skingredients to debunk the myths on this ancient (and easy) skincare step. 

What is face steaming?

Facial steaming is the process of using water vapour to hydrate and warm the skin. In a professional setting this often involves the use of a professional facial steamer or “wand” that creates vapour. But there are also steaming devices that can be used at home.

“Contrary to popular belief, steam doesn’t open your pores,” reveals Rock. “Your pores aren’t doors, and they don’t open and close.”

However steam does increase your skin’s temperature, which in turn warms up and softens any debris and sebum within the pore. Any excess oil and sebum can then liquify, making it easier to drain away or be manually extracted.

This heat can also activate enzymes, so enzyme masques can work more effectively when used post-steaming.

Steaming can also soften the skin, increase hydration (temporarily) and may increase product absorption. As heat helps to dilate blood vessels, steam can also boost circulation for an instant glow.

Is face steaming safe?

“Face steaming is safe so long as it is performed correctly, meaning the steam is not too hot and it’s not being over-used. However, it’s not recommended for those prone to redness or flushing, as this excess heat will only exacerbate the issue,” reveals Rock. 

“For steaming treatments, 43°C is the ideal temperature and most at-home facial steamers will have a temperature control to regulate their temperature.”

This is one reason why using a professional at-home facial steamer (rather than opting for a bowl of steaming hot water and a towel) is recommended. Steam can cause burns so it’s always best to play it safe and use a device that’s specifically made to steam the face. 

How to use a facial steamer at home

There are lots of at-home face steamers designed to soften the skin and help boost the efficacy of skincare products. If you want to include a facial steam into your skincare routine then Rock advises using it after cleansing and before applying any serums or moisturisers to help lock in hydration. 

If you have sensitive skin or are prone to redness or burst blood vessels, only use a facial steamer once a week. Otherwise, two to three times is the recommended amount.

Steamers can also help to make manual extractions much easier, but at-home extractions should always be carried out with caution.

“I wouldn’t necessarily advocate for an extraction tool, but rather clean fingers, not fingernails,” advises Rock. “Professionals are trained in the correct pressure and technique to perform an at-home extraction and when performed this way, extractions should not cause damage. But there is potential for damage if you don’t know the technicalities of what you’re doing, so watch a Youtube tutorial from a trained professional if are absolutely not going to leave that whitehead on your face!”

The best at-home face steamers

  • Silk’n VitalSteam

    Best face steamers: Silk’n VitalSteam

    Designed by physicians, Silk’n’s VitalSteam facial sauna disperses ultra-fine steam at temperatures that are safe for your skin and has a cold steam function to help strengthen and hydrate your skin for fresh-faced effect. 

    Plus, there’s even an aromatherapy vessel where you can add your favourite essential oils to release relaxing scents to aid your evening wind-down routine.

    Shop Silk’n VitalSteam at Cult Beauty, £59.99

    Buy now

  • Rio Facial Sauna & Steamer with Steam Inhaler

    Best face steamers: Rio Facial Sauna & Steamer with Steam Inhaler

    This easy-to-use facial steamer comes with two adjustable steam levels and is a great affordable option for anyone looking to try out a facial steamer without spending a fortune. The full face mask means that your skin benefits from the steam, without it escaping into the air around. 

    Shop Rio Facial Sauna & Steamer with Steam Inhaler at lookfantastic, £24.99

    Buy now

  • Panasonic Facial Steamer EH-XS01

    Best face steamers: Panasonic Facial Steamer EH-XS01

    Inspired and created in Japan, this Panasonic Facial Steamer creates extremely fine steam particles (18,000 times finer than regular steam particles!) which are better at deeply penetrating the skin.

    Just choose your steam cycle (12 minute intense, six minute express or three minute instant) then position your face approximately 20cm from the lid and enjoy!

    Shop Panasonic Facial Steamer EH-XS01 at Boots, £129.99

    Buy now

What to do after face steaming

Post-steaming, the goal is to give back to the skin with ingredients that nourish it and can help to lock in any hydration introduced.

  • Skingredients Skin Veg

    Best products to use after face steaming: Skingredients Skin Veg

    This hydrating and brightening hyaluronic acid pre-serum is also enriched with soothing and protective antioxidants and a pro-collagen peptide. 

    Shop Skingredients Skin Veg at Skingredients, £38

    Buy now

  • The Body Shop CBD Restoring Facial Oil

    Best products to use after face steaming: The Body Shop CBD Restoring Facial Oil

    Packed with natural origin CBD, hemp seed oil, squalane and patchouli extract this nourishing facial oil helps to rebalance stressed and dehydrated skin types. 

    Shop The Body Shop CBD Restoring Facial Oil at The Body Shop, £25

    Buy now

  • Lumene Nordic C [Valo] Fresh Glow Brightening Gel Mask

    Best products to use after face steaming: Lumene Nordic C Valo Fresh Glow Brightening Gel Mask

    This glow-boosting gel mask contains AHAs to gently exfoliate and re-energize dull and tired skin. Use after facial steaming to allow the heat to help activate enzymes for an even better glow. 

    Shop Lumene Nordic C [Valo] Fresh Glow Brightening Gel Mask at Feelunique, £19.90

    Buy Now

  • Caudalie Firming Night Cream

    Best products to use after face steaming: Caudalie Firming Night Cream

    This powerful skin plumper combines resveratrol, hyaluronic acid and a vegan collagen booster to smooth fine lines overnight so you wake up with firmer-looking, ultra hydrated skin.

    Shop Caudalie Firming Night Cream at lookfantastic, £42

    Buy now

  • Skingredients Skin Good Fats

    Best products to use after face steaming: Skingredients Skin Good Fats

    Lipidic ingredients such as ceramides can be incredibly supportive to the skin’s barrier and aid it in holding on to moisture. This clever cream contains ceramide NP and shea butter glycerides, along with niacinamide, vitamin E and anti-inflammatory ingredients for intense nourishment and calmer skin.

    Shop Skingredients Skin Good Fats at Skingredients, £38

    Buy now

  • NUXE Organic Skin Correcting Moisturising Fluid

    Best products to use after face steaming: NUXE Organic Skin Correcting Moisturising Fluid

    This organic face cream is designed to quench tired, thirsty skin with Marine Seaweed Extract. The clever component helps draw moisture to the skin, nourishing areas of dryness and coarseness to promote a supple, silky-smooth complexion.

    Shop NUXE Organic Skin Correcting Moisturising Fluid at Feelunique, £28.80

    Buy now

Main image: Getty

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